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Time to Fire Up the Grill and Barbecue pit as Temperatures Rise

Now that it’s warming up outside, the Katy family is migrating into the backyard more, and its time to pull out the grill.  Are you in the mood for healthy family dinners that are easy to prepare and even easier on the tummy?  Juicy, tender meats aren’t the only whole foods that are good to grill; veggies, bread, and even fruit are delicious additions to the grillin’ family.

Here are some tips to ease you into warm weather dinnertime on the back porch.  Less time and effort spent on dinner equals more time to be active with the kids and spouse on these great days.

1.  Prep is the key. Yep, you can grill just about anything, but for the best results, remember that preparation, marinating, and timing are very important.  For meats like steaks, chops, and ribs – rubs and seasoning mixes are the best.  Thicker steaks, though, should be marinated in liquid to help retain the natural juices.  Chicken is best when marinated for an hour or so to help hold in the moisture and tenderness.  Veggies, like asparagus, zucchini, and kabobs, can be basted in olive oil, or lemon butter.  Fish is best buttered or oiled, as well, with herb seasonings like lemon pepper and fresh rosemary.  It’s a personal taste preference, ultimately, so experiment with the methods until you find the ways you like it.

2.  Creativity gone wild. One of the reasons I love grilling is because you can cook everything on there.  Get creative, research fun recipe combinations, and realize that there is no limit for what you can grill to eat.  Succulent fruits are all the rage now, and my family and I love pineapple grilled with fish or chicken, or even an Asian-inspired marinated steak.  Peaches, apples, and even bananas can be grilled as well.  Kabobs are so much fun, mixing healthy, ripe veggies with some chunks of chicken or pork.

3.  Cleanup is minimal. In addition to keeping the heat outside of the house, grilling cleanup is so easy.  Using things like aluminum foil and pans placed right on the grill surface will also add to the ease of clearing away the dinner dishes.  Use oil sprays straight on the grill surface before placing the meat or veggies for less stickiness.  Family members will be volunteering to be cleanup crew when you barbeque.

4.  Burn not, want not. One of the dreaded results of the family grillout is the great BURN.  To achieve cooked meat without a black, crispy shell, watch the temperature on the grill.  If you are using a charcoal burning grill, try not to use lighter fluid to light the fire, as this will leave your food with more marinating than you bargained for.  Wait until the fire has burned low to no visible flames, and more of an ember glow.  The gas grills (my personal favorite.) are a little less maintenance, and don’t leave unpleasant reminders of the resident pyromaniac’s latest achievement.  The only drawback with them is to plan ahead of time to have propane on hand – there is nothing like plopping the succulent, raw chicken on a grill that burns out halfway through.

5.  The more, the merrier. Food, that is.  A really great grilling tip is to take advantage of having the heat already on, and grill an few extra chicken breasts to store in the fridge for those midweek soups and salads.  We do this every week, and my husband uses them for a quick wrap or salad for work lunches.  The grilled taste keeps the chicken tasting fresh all week, even for picky leftovers people like us.

Did any of these tips help you get motivated to take advantage of the gorgeous spring weather and get outside for an evening in your Katy neighborhood?  I hope so.  Let me know what tips work well for you in your culinary skills at the grill.

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